Victoria - epicentre of Australia's second wave of Covid-19 infections - reported its lowest one-day rise in new cases in nearly two months, buoying hopes a lockdown of nearly 5 million people has contained the spread of the virus.
Victoria said it detected 113 new cases in the past 24 hours, the lowest one-day rise since 5 July. The state reported 149 infections yesterday.
Australia has now recorded nearly 25,500 infections. The death toll has risen to 572 after the latest deaths of 23 people in Victoria, 22 of which are linked to aged care settings.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the results meant officials were plotting how to ease restrictions after the stringent lockdown of Australia's second-biggest city Melbourne, which is scheduled to end in September.
"Hopefully soon we'll see those numbers in double digits and we can have ... a really clear discussion about what the back end of September looks like," Andrews told reporters.
"We hope to give people a road map, a clear plan about what coming out of stage four looks like, what opening up looks like, what finding Covid-normal looks like," he said.
Strict lockdown measures have helped ease the daily rise of coronavirus infections in Victoria after the state hit a one-day high of more than 700 cases about three weeks ago.
Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said the Reff or effective reproduction number - which indicates how many people, on average, one person with coronavirus infects - was about 0.87 a fortnight ago.
"I would expect it to be a bit lower than that at the moment. It's certainly encouraging and below one, which is where we want it to be," he said.
New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, reported nine Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, all locally acquired, and Queensland said it detected two new infections.
Last week, Australia signed a deal with British drugmaker AstraZeneca to produce and distribute enough doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine that Canberra plans to roll out cost-free to its population of 25 million.
- Reuters / ABC